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fightingfatigue
02-28-2008, 10:27 PM
Hi! I'm new here so right now I am totally overwhelmed! I am currently trying to do some research on writing a health-related book on three chronic illnesses that I suffer from. I have been a patient for almost 20 years, so I know a lot about them and feel that I could offer helpful information to others.

I'm stuck on the angle I should take for my book. I'm not sure whether to write it from the angle of sharing my personal life and experiences with the illnesses, writing about the coping skills I've learned along the way, or incorporating both.

What angle do those of you who have experience writing think I should take as I attempt my first stab at writing a book?

ExposingCorruption
02-28-2008, 10:52 PM
Hi! I'm new here so right now I am totally overwhelmed! I am currently trying to do some research on writing a health-related book on three chronic illnesses that I suffer from. I have been a patient for almost 20 years, so I know a lot about them and feel that I could offer helpful information to others.

I'm stuck on the angle I should take for my book. I'm not sure whether to write it from the angle of sharing my personal life and experiences with the illnesses, writing about the coping skills I've learned along the way, or incorporating both.

What angle do those of you who have experience writing think I should take as I attempt my first stab at writing a book?

Hello fightingfatigue and welcome to the forum. I'm pretty new here myself.

If you "write it from the angle of sharing my personal life and experiences with the illnesses," it would seem to be more of a memoir, in which case you should have the entire book written before querying agents.

If you write "about the coping skills I've learned along the way," it would be more of a self help book for people with those illnesses. The self help book would have a smaller audience if it is specifically for people with those illnesses.

I would say that you should go with the one with which you are most comfortable.

escritora
02-28-2008, 11:02 PM
If you write "about the coping skills I've learned along the way," it would be more of a self help book for people with those illnesses. The self help book would have a smaller audience if it is specifically for people with those illnesses.


And you may be required to have a platform before an agent or publisher will show interest.

auntybug
02-28-2008, 11:02 PM
I agree with the above post (EC) - I just also wanted to say :welcome:

fightingfatigue
02-28-2008, 11:57 PM
And you may be required to have a platform before an agent or publisher will show interest.

Thanks for the quick replies and the welcomes! What do you mean by "required to have a platform"?

escritora
02-29-2008, 12:06 AM
As a self-help or how-to author, you may be required to have an audience. That's how most practical nonfiction books are published. The agent or publisher will be interested in past speaking engagements, newspaper quotes, published articles and so on.

Creative nonfiction, such as a memoir, is treated like a novel so you won't be required to have a following.

Did that make sense?

escritora
02-29-2008, 12:08 AM
Also with self-help you will be required to write a book proposal.

fightingfatigue
02-29-2008, 02:38 AM
Thanks, escritora. I understand now! I do have some published articles online and I have a website. I doubt though that either one of those would give me enough credibility to publish a "how-to" book.

I was a little afraid to do a memoir type book because I fear that my life will not be found interesting enough to others, but living with three chronic illnesses is an experience not everyone has had!

escritora
02-29-2008, 02:48 AM
I was a little afraid to do a memoir type book because I fear that my life will not be found interesting enough to others, but living with three chronic illnesses is an experience not everyone has had!

Here's another take: I heard on a podcast - can't remember which one - where an agent spoke about memoirs. She said that writers should consider writing about a specific period in their life, as opposed to delving into a long time frame.

She gave the example of a client who wrote about the summer he learned to ride a bike and the events that ocurred during that time. The same client wrote about the year he learned how to build airplanes and also built a relationship with his father. (something like that).

The agent's point is to focus on a limited time frame. For you it could be about the nine months you were pregnant and dealing with the disease (that is of course if you are a woman and were pregnant <smile>.

So if you think your life is boring, focus on a specific event and write your book around that experience.

Just food for thought.

Georganna Hancock
03-02-2008, 12:41 AM
Learning about how to write a nonfiction book and about the publishing industry, publishing nonfiction books in general, marketing books, and competition and comparisons in your field--all these will help you decide exactly what to write about.

In other words, I'm trying to gently tell you to learn about what you want to do before attempting it. I see too many people get an idea and rush off to invest time (sometimes years) and energy and occasionally money in writing a book, only to discover it is not marketable to anyone. Then, trying to recoup their investments, they turn to self-publishing, still with no understanding of the industry.

My preference is not to read about someone else's personal experiences, especially about illnesses. Much better, to my taste, is a book meaty with material from interviews and references to authorities, professionals and established information resources. These certainly could include patients' experiences, but a book all about me, me, me smacks of too narrow a focus to be useful to others.

Unless you have an utterly amazing story, preferably including a miraculous recovery, of course. 8-)

fightingfatigue
03-04-2008, 06:58 AM
Thanks! I am really trying to research this as much as possible, so that I do the best job possible. I still haven't decided what road I want to take yet.